There is a big hoopla going on at this very moment about Caitlyn Jenner and some comments she made to Time Magazine as they interviewed her for their end-of-the-year issue. She says, in part, in the article “Caitlyn Jenner on Privilege, Reality TV and Deciding to Come Out“:
“One thing that has always been important for me, and it may seem very self-absorbed or whatever, is first of all your presentation of who you are. I think it’s much easier for a trans woman or a trans man who authentically kind of looks and plays the role. So what I call my presentation. I try to take that seriously. I think it puts people at ease. If you’re out there and, to be honest with you, if you look like a man in a dress, it makes people uncomfortable. So the first thing I can do is try to present myself well. I want to dress well. I want to look good.”
Holy. Crap. Can I tell you what ire this has raised in the trans* community!
From “Was Caitlyn Jenner’s ‘Man In A Dress’ Comment Transphobic?“:
“Some resent the pressure to perform their gender along traditional, binary lines; others don’t have a TV star’s time, money, and resources to devote to it, even if they wanted to. (Transgender teen Leelah Alcorn, whose suicide last year touched off a major national conversation about society’s treatment of young trans people, left behind a heartbreaking note that cited the impossibility of a ‘successful’ transition as a contributing factor in her decision.) And of course, glamour on a Caitlyn Jenner level is totally out of reach for the vast majority of people, trans or otherwise.”
I talk to many clients who struggle with this issue every day. They tell me they will never “pass,” so why transition at all? The trans* community wants them/you/us to know you should not have to pass in order to walk in this world! The reality, however, is, for safety issues, passing makes life much easier. But that doesn’t make it right and the more transfolks who come out, looking to pass or not, the more society will get over the binary ideas of gender (male and female). I go out with my transwomen friends, acting as a buffer against the stupid assholes that might make comments.
Do Hormones/Surgery Make You Trans*?
Trans* people shouldn’t have to take hormones or have surgeries to be acknowledged as the gender they are. Many transfolks don’t want surgery, even if they can afford it. For some, their image is set and they don’t have the gender dysphoria others do; even if they can afford the gamut of options available to trans* people. That must be respected. No one should be judged based on their decision to medically transition or not.
In her blog post that came out yesterday, “Still So Much to Learn,” Caitlyn says:
“Some people look gender non-conforming because they want to look that way – they don’t want to conform to society’s expectations. Those people have every right to look and present exactly as they choose. And then there are other people who don’t have the resources to access the medical procedures that would help them look the way they would like to look. Procedures, incidentally, that most health insurance plans refuse to cover. All of these people are my brothers and my sisters, and I am fighting alongside them, too.”
Caitlyn Jenner, politically conservative, has stuck her foot in her mouth several times so far… at the United Nations and regarding Gay Marriage, as two examples. She clearly has a lot to learn about the trans* community. Should she be given special dispensation to learn and grow because she just came out? Or should she really already know better considering the inordinate amount of trans* activists in her life. I think most of us are still on the fence about which to accept. I do know, I hope she learns faster… and checks with the trans* community before she opens her mouth again.
Power to my trans* friends!